Mars Venus Conjunction Meaning Explained As Photos Show Planets Cosying up in the Sky

Twitter users have posted photos of Mars and Venus appearing close together in the night sky after the two planets were in conjunction.

On Tuesday, Earth's two closest planetary neighbours nestled close to one another in the sky as the moon hovered nearby.

The official time of the cosmic meet-up was around 2 a.m. EDT, according to Astronomy magazine.

Mars and Venus conjunction with the Crescent Moon in night skies this week. #JulyMoon #Sydneyskies

— Cheryl Scheffer (@CherScheff) July 14, 2021

Mars and venus conjunction (bottom right). Moon stealing the show though.
13th July'21.

— Tsewang Stanzin (@t_stanzin) July 14, 2021

Just enough break in the clouds to snap a quick iPhone-through-the-Dob shot of the Mars & Venus conjunction and the 3-day-old moon with a little Earthshine on the side. #Mars #Venus #Conjunction #CrescentMoon #Moon #Earthshine #Telescope #Astrophotography #GigEm #GodIsGood

— Aggie Astronomer (@AggieAstronomer) July 13, 2021

The last conjunction between the two planets took place in August 2019, though since they appeared much closer to the sun in the sky at that time, they were invisible from Earth.

What is a conjunction?

A conjunction is a phenomenon where any two objects in space, such as planets or stars, appear close to one another in the sky as their orbits align from Earth's perspective.

However, just because the planets appear to be close together does not mean they are.

Planets are actually tens of millions of miles away from one another, even though they may look nestled together in our perspective from Earth, and stars are light years away from each other—which is mind-bogglingly far apart.

Two objects are said to be in conjunction with one another if they have the same right ascension. Right ascension is described by NASA as the celestial equivalent of longitude here on Earth. It is usually expressed in hours, minutes, and seconds of time, though it can also be specified in degrees.

As an example, one hour of right ascension is equal to about 15 degrees of sky rotation.

Mars and Venus are the two planets closest to Earth. Mars, the fourth planet from the sun, can come as close as 33.9 million miles to Earth. Mars, with its much thinner atmosphere and further distance from the sun, is colder than Earth with an average surface temperature of about -80 degrees Fahrenheit.

Venus, the second planet from the sun, can come as close as 24 million miles. Being relatively close to the sun, Venus is a scorching hot planet with a surface temperature of around 900 degrees Fahrenheit. Its heat is made even more severe due to a runaway greenhouse effect caused by its atmosphere.

The distance between Earth and the two planets varies widely as they travel around the sun at different speeds.

Solar system in space
A stock photo shows an artist's impression of the inner planets of the solar system. A conjunction is when two celestial objects appear close to one another in the sky from Earth's perspective. johan63/Getty